On the day of the Boston Marathon bombing, many unsung heroes reached out to help those in dire need. Nurses, doctors, and by-standers all rushed toward danger to tie tourniquets, carry wounded to ambulances, and hold the hands of those who cried out in fear and pain. These brave souls thought not of themselves and their personal safety — they dug deep and poured out their hearts when others ran away in fear. Their gutsy sacrificial service challenged me — Would I have done the same? Would I have run away in terror, or would I have stayed and helped? Would I have made those bloody streets my mission field?
I think sometimes I prefer “easy service.” I open up my home and break out the salsa and chips for a group of people who look like me and talk like me and have petty, insignificant problems like me. Am I willing to get my hands dirty and deal with the bloody mess of the world? The red-stained streets of Boston caused me to wonder.
Last year, my home became a messy battlefield. First, the bomb of sickness blew up in our midst. Then, depression and anxiety ticked away threatening to decimate every last inch of our marriage. During this season, God sent brave caregivers who prayed over us, cooked and dropped off meals, and spent time encouraging our spirits by just standing near. Two amazing friends actually spent a week at my home during the worst of the mess — they played board games with me to distract me, sang worship songs to encourage me, and spoke words of life and peace over me when all I could see was darkness. I will never forget their kindness. My life was not pretty at that point — and they did not fear the ugliness of the situation. They were willing to get their hands dirty in my mess.
Yesterday, I was reading in II Corinthians 1 about how God allows us to walk through dark times in order to prepare us to be a part of His “rescue operation.” Apparently, God’s special agents of comfort must first be initiated in the “school of hard knocks” in order to gain the courage and understanding needed to come along side those in need. Paul explains
“We felt like we’d been sent to death row, that it was all over for us. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally—not a bad idea since He’s the God who raises the dead! And He did it, rescued us from certain doom. And He’ll do it again, rescuing us as many times as we need rescuing. You and your prayers are part of the rescue operation—I don’t want you in the dark about that either. I can see your faces even now, lifted in praise for God’s deliverance of us, a rescue in which your prayers played such a crucial part” (v.9-11, MSG).
The rescued make the best emergency care givers. Having experienced the mess themselves, the blood and guts does not make them squirm. In reading through this chapter, I see a clear job description for God’s rescue workers:
1. They themselves have been through hard times with God at their side (v.4a).
2. They are willing to come alongside the hurting with comfort just as God once stood beside them (v.4b).
3. They offer what they have learned through suffering to bring healing and salvation to those in need (v.6a).
4. They spur on the discouraged to keep moving with unflinching endurance and face forward (v.6b)
5. They firmly believe that God’s comfort is always available for the suffering (v.7).
5. Through difficult times, they have learned to fully rely on God, rather than themselves (v.9).
6. They are confident that God is able to deliver and will continue to deliver (v.10).
7. They understand the power of prayer (v.11).
Based on this job description, are you ready to make the ugly streets your mission field? Will you stay and help bandage the wounded, or will you run in fear? I am praying that God helps me to be brave and extend His healing to those who need Him most.
Q4U: Have you experienced God’s comfort and healing through the hands of one of his rescue workers?
My one-word focus for the year is “fruitilicious.” Find out what that means here.
Joining like-minded sisters today at Faith-Filled Friday, Thought-Provoking Thursday, Tell His Story, Playdates with God, Hear it on Sunday: Use it on Monday, and Soli Deo Gloria.